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Anushka Asthana talks to the Guardian’s health editor, Sarah Boseley, about the latest developments in Covid-19. New variants of the coronavirus have worried scientists, in particular the E484K mutation. This mutation, which has been found in the South African and Kent variants as well as the original strain of coronavirus, appears to be better able to escape the immune protection provided by vaccines and prior infection.
South Africa has halted the rollout of the Oxford/AstraZeneca jab in the wake of a trial conducted in South Africa, where the “South African variant” is the dominant strain. Scientists who conducted the small-scale trial of the vaccine’s efficacy said it showed very little protection against mild to moderate infection, though they expressed hope that – in theory – it would still offer significant protection against more serious infection. The results of the trial are awaiting publication and peer review.
AstraZeneca has said it could take between six and nine months to produce Covid-19 vaccines that are effective against new variants of the coronavirus, but have said it remains effective against the original virus and at least one variant, first discovered in Kent, England. It is a race between the virus and the scientists developing the vaccines, says Boseley.
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Keyword: Covid-19 variants and what they mean for vaccines | News